Exploring the evolution of galaxies with the next generation of massive surveys

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics


Understanding how galaxies evolve requires knowledge of their morphologies and the star formation histories of their various morphological components, and their interdependence. We are at the cusp of being able to explore galaxy evolution over the past 10+ billion years through the analysis of unprecedentedly-large samples of galaxies drawn from huge sky surveys that are to take place in the next few years. In particular, the joint analysis of the LSST and EUCLID surveys will provide us with samples of many millions of galaxies which are characterised by full photometry from observed U band though to the near IR and with high resolution imaging suitable to determine the optical and near-IR morphologies of the galaxies over a huge range in lookback time and redshift - from the epoch of peak star formation in the universe to today. In order to explore this evolution computational tools will be developed to simultaneously characterise each galaxy in terms of its morphology (bulge & disk) and detailed star formation history for each component) and thereby determine a self-consistent model of the evolution of the entire population - the history of a lower redshift population must agree with the properties of a population seen at an earlier cosmic time. The work will involve techniques drawn from Big Data and potentially AI in order to cope with the huge number of objects, each characterised by a large number of parameters and potentially fit with a multitude of different evolutionary models


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